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Adopt daily, spiritual practices during pandemic lockdown

As the country experiences its third lockdown, Archbishop Jason Gordon opined that the present reality can be seen as a time of “pruning” for faithful and Church for a purpose— to be fruitful. It is also a chance for spiritual growth and moving from spiritual infancy to adolescence.

In a press conference, Thursday, April 29, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced the latest rollback measures such as the closure of all places of worship, restaurants and recreation spots effective midnight April 29 to May 23, in an effort to stem the rise in COVID-19 cases.

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At a live-streamed Mass on Sunday, May 2 at the Living Water Community Chapel, Archbishop Gordon called for faithful to see the present period as the Father, the vine dresser, pruning the vine for a purpose.

“People who grow roses and fruit tree and roses and these things know at a certain time you have to start pruning the tree, and if you start pruning the tree at the right time in the right way, it becomes ever more fruitful after that,” he said. The Archbishop was referring to the day’s gospel reading in which Jesus states, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser” (Jn 15:1-8).

Archbishop Gordon said there were times when people went through rough times, and suffering and they questioned where God is. “No matter what you seem to do, you can’t seem to pull yourself out of it, that is the pruning”.

He reminded that Christians were never given the promise they would not experience difficulties. The promise however is, that if they remain in Christ, they will be pruned and “become more fruitful” than they were before. Archbishop Gordon said pruning can feel like a “hacking away or God not taking them seriously or not getting what they need”. It can come in the not yet answered prayers, illness, public humiliation, a medical condition, a feeling of desolation within. “If we can identify this as pruning, we can draw closer to Christ and allow Christ to grow us up in that moment,” he advised.

Persons may be experiencing “Mass tabanca” and pruning can be the heart’s longing for the Eucharist. “The pruning is love in action from the Father to us…to the Church, so we might be more fruitful”. Pruning is an essential part of the discipleship work which the faithful do not understand. There are those who believe God made a pact with them that if they believe, He will take care of them, they will have a fruitful life and prosper economically. “I did not read that anywhere in the gospel. What I did read in the gospel says this: that my Father will prune you [and you] may bear even more.”

It is in the times of pruning that many “check out” of discipleship and following Jesus but this is how spiritual growth from infancy to adolescence happened. Faithful must bend their heart, the Archbishop said.

Archbishop Gordon said the one true sign that the faithful were abiding in Him was loving one another. Pruning enabled God’s love to shine even more brightly. “The saints who have been pruned the most have been the most fruitful of saints.”

The Archbishop saw the month of restrictions as an “incredible opportunity” to grow and allow the pruning to grow them more deeply. “I am begging you this time to allow your heart to be open wide to your Saviour Jesus Christ and let Him take you where He wants to take you”.

Archbishop Gordon gave a few daily practices for Catholics to make their home in Christ during the lockdown:

1. “Use this time as a time of retreat.”

2. Follow the devotion of the Holy Father for the month of May. Pope Francis has asked Catholics and Marian Shrines around the world to dedicate May to a marathon of prayer for an end to the COVID-19. At 6 p.m. daily Trinity TV will carry the devotion

3. Tune into your parish’s Mass daily on social media or on Trinity TV

4. Make a spiritual practice of a time of prayer—take time every day when praying for the heart’s desires and be totally available to whatever God wants

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